Nothing could have united the world the way Coronavirus has. Its an unfortunate truth but the world is reeling under the torture this virus has brought about on their lives. There’s another common sight which binds the whole world together. That is of people wearing Best Pollution Masks or surgical masks. There is no differentiation of rich or poor. Its surprising to see how even the most carefree or rather careless souls wear masks religiously. Although their laid back nature is still reflected in the way they wear their masks incorrectly. In this post, I have tried to showcase how to test a surgical mask to tell if its fake or genuine.
Using a surgical mask as a protection against Coronavirus is not very fool-proof. No matter what, a surgical mask cannot provide a tight seal on the face as a N95 mask (without valve) would give.
Test Fake Surgical Mask And Identify Genuine
With the frenzy that this virus has stirred among people, there’s a lobby of people who have literally struck gold! I am talking about the people dealing in masks, PPE kits, personal sanitization products like hand sanitizers etc. The tragedy of the times is that some unscrupulous people have found ways to trick people here too. All sorts of fake N95 masks, surgical masks, hand sanitizers and what not are being sold. And these things are selling too, that’s the problem.
People have really been caught off-guard to know or differentiate fake things. No one knows how to test whether an N95 mask is fake or real. For Coronavirus in particular, WHO and other health organizations have changed tones and narratives many times. Earlier WHO said only health workers or infected people should wear masks. I was furiously upset with this stupid directive from them. After Coronavirus slapped them to their senses, WHO changed their prescription again. Now, finally they say that everyone should wear masks. Even governments of countries are imposing this with threats of penalties. Anyways people have well understood the danger they are in and are wearing masks no matter what.
What Do You Need To Test A Mask?
Ofcourse you need a surgical mask! I would not want you to waste a new mask. The ways I am going to tell you to test your mask would need a sacrifice of a couple of masks. So, you can do these tests on your used masks instead. Get a supposedly good quality 3-ply surgical mask from wherever you normally would.
By 3-ply it simply means that there are 3 layers with which your surgical mask is made of.
- Innermost Layer – It absorbs moisture from the breath of the wearer.
- Middle Layer – It is a filter material which actually stops the bacteria from transmitting.
- Outermost Layer – This layer is hydrophobic which means it repels water.
Take all three tests to ensure that the mask you’re using is a genuine 3-ply surgical mask. Test #2 won’t need you to destruct the mask. So, overall to take these 3 tests, you’d need minimum 2 spare/discarded masks.
TEST #1 MASK POSTMORTEM
Pardon me if the name of this test scared you a bit. Its a figment of my own naughty mind. Simply put, this test demands you to cut open and inspect your surgical mask bit by bit. Or rather layer by layer. A 3-ply surgical mask has as many layers – 3 layers to be exact. So, the question here is whether there are three separate layers or just one.
- If you cut through the middle of the mask, you should be able to see the separate layers.
- First layer, the outermost layer would be the colored one – Blue, Green or White.
- Second Layer (if present) would be a white layer.
- Third Layer would be a partially transparent layer.
TEST #2 MASK IN THE BUCKET
Surgical masks protect the patient from the water or fluid droplets of the doctor or health worker. It also protects the face of the wearer from being smeared by splashes or blood or body fluids. In short, it protects both the sides from exchanging body fluids and prevents infections.
In this test you need to use water to test out your fake or real surgical mask. As pointed out above, the outer side of the surgical mask is water proof right? So, we are going to test if it indeed is water proof, as simple as that.
- Make a boat out of your mask, that is make a pocket shape of your mask.
- Pour some water into this boat you just created.
- See if the water is leaking out and if the outermost side (colored side) feels damp to touch.
- If the water starts leaking out or starts seeping out, THROW AWAY THE MASK RIGHT THEN! No need to go to TEST #3.
TEST #3 FIRE TEST
The middle layer of the surgical mask is the actual filter. It may look like but it is and should not be paper material in a real surgical mask. Its made of synthetic material. From your experience of burning paper and some plastic, I am sure you must have observed some difference in the way they burn?
- Separate out the middle layer of the surgical mask we dissected in TEST #1.
- Burn an edge of the middle layer and observe how it burns.
- If it catches fire (yeah real flames) then its a fake surgical mask.
- A genuine surgical mask’s filter just retracts from the edge you are burning it. In simpler words, the middle filter layer would just shrink as you show flame to it.
You would not need to douse the flame from the real/genuine filter material.
ALSO READ: BEST N95 MASKS FOR KIDS
Wrapping It Up!
So, here we are, specialists in pointing out a fake surgical mask from a genuine one! Its simple isn’t it? I think you should take time to test the masks you are using. Anyways, I presume you are at home most of the time these days and doing WFH. When I was a kid such experiments or tests which involved fire always excited me. I remember as a kid, putting all sort of things in a boiling hydrogen peroxide(H2O2) solution hoping to discover some new compound or maybe element, lol!
At this crucial time, safety of our health is the prime focus area. We should not let our lives balance from false assurances from fake masks, atleast. Its no use to be spending money on such products. I understand to make the discovery that a mask is fake, it means you’re money is already wasted. But, from doing these tests, at a minimum you won’t reorder or buy that fake product again.